DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

nature

Collage of my front porch garden

Any little corner of the world can be transformed into a personal and unique work of art.  Every change that we make to our world and environment changes all of us just a little bit.  Flowers and plants, like books, are among my best friends in the world.  They are quiet and dynamic, and the depth of their being touches my heart.

I became a home-owner for the first time just three years ago this month.  My favorite type of house is the Craftsman bungalow.  While my house is not a 1930’s artisanal gem, it is a renovated small 1950’s ranch with a large front porch add-on.  A front porch is an architectural hug, an invitation, a welcoming embrace.  I fell in love with my house because of the porch with its columns, ceiling fan, and large front window.  I immediately sketched out in my mind the containers overflowing with luxuriant plants, flowers, and herbs that would adorn the biggest room in my house!

A porch can be an oasis...

While trained as a visual artist and painter, gardening affords me a multi-dimensional experience, artistically speaking.  The plants have color, texture, aromas, form.  As living beings, the plants interact with one another, and they attract a world of what most would consider to be pests.  In any case, as I stated above—plants are dynamic, and they act on the environment around them.  My basil has introduced miniature snails to my front porch.  Tiny bees hum, darting in and out of the blooming oregano, while moths find shade and shelter during daylight hours under the leaves of flowering plants.  A salamander enjoys frolicking around my geraniums.  Zippered webs with juicy lemon yellow and black garden spiders have haunted my columns and rosemary.  Birds, chipmunks, and squirrels peck around in the soil and mulch, searching for succulent treats, scattering debris in their wake.

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Oct 14 2011

Fall into the Woods

by Amanda L

All my life I have loved being outside in the Fall. Watching nature make her last spectacular color push until she falls asleep for the winter is one of my favorite pastimes. When I head into the woods each Fall, I often  have my camera and a variety of books within reach to consult.  If you sit quietly for an hour or more, you never know what animal, bird or insect you might see that you have never seen before.

Over the years, I have seen deer, coyotes, pileated woodpeckers, armadillos, skunks and a screech owl to name a few. Last year, my most memorable moment was when I thought a herd of deer were coming towards me as I sat in the woods. To my shock and surprise, I found two rambunctious armadillos chasing each other through the leaves.  If I’m unsure of the animal, insect or even a tree, I always consult a guide book. The Library has a variety of these guidebooks to help you identify what you have seen. There are also books on nature photography.

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Oct 18 2010

Go forth into Autumn’s glory

by Patricia D

We’re slooooowly coming into my favorite time of year.  I love the particular shade of blue the sky gets right now and the way the air seems somehow sharper, even here in the city where we are still suffering through some code orange days.   I once had occasion to fly over the Appalachian mountains at the height of the season’s turning and was enchanted by the unending colors undulating below.  While nothing can compare with Spring in the South I truly believe that Autumn is the best time of year for basking in nature’s glow.  It’s also the time of year for every little town to have a festival.  Where I come from it’s apple butter, bratwurst and pumpkins.  In this part of the world (http://www.southfest.com) it seems to be, among other things, apples, marble and beer.  North or South these wonderful events always have a parade, a festival queen,  bouncy fings (as we say at my house) and face painting for the kids, crafts fairs and food vendors.  This is when I can count on getting a corn dog and indulge my taste for fresh fried pork rinds.  Yep, for me, this time of year is way better than Christmas.

I worried about moving this far South because I thought I would be robbed of  a decent season change.  Though I still haven’t adjusted to thinking about yard work in late February  I can be content with the Autumn colors and when that’s not enough I can run away to the mountains.  The Georgia Department of Natural Resources currently has the Leaf Watch going, with tips for the best trails for color and even a webcam on Black Rock Mountain.  I check out a Georgia Park Pass, grab a few books out of the collection, including a few to explain the color change to the Back Seat Club and we’re on our way, perhaps stopping at a roadside stand for fresh cider and a peck of apples.

Afoot and Afield in Atlanta by Marcus Woolf

Nature Adventures in The North Georgia Mountains by Mary Ellen Hammond

Hiking Georgia by Donald W. Pfitzer

Hiking Trails of the Great Smoky Mountains by Kenneth Wise

Investigating Why Leaves Change Color by Ellen Rene

Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins

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Aug 20 2010

ShareReads: Bugged Out

by Jimmy L

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

About a month ago, I was poking around my crawlspace when I noticed a lot of dark crickets jumping around like popcorn as soon as I got close to them.  Wondering whether they were harmful, I looked online and found out that they were called camel crickets (but also sometimes known as cave crickets), and completely harmless.  They like dark damp spaces, eat detritus, and are completely silent, so you won’t hear them chirping at night.   The little things looked so cute, the 5 year old in me thought about raising a few in a cage so I could observe them.

Then last week, I was in a used bookstore and I came upon a book through pure luck— Broadsides from the Other Orders: A Book of Bugs by Sue Hubbell.  A cursory glance through the contents revealed that each chapter is about a different insect, from much loved ones like the butterfly and the ladybug, to ones we consider pests like gnats, silverfish, and flies.  I put it in my huge pile of finds that day and took it to the checkout counter.  It wasn’t until later that I saw the title of the last chapter—Order Orthoptera: Camel Crickets.

I’m still reading this book, slowly, savoring it chapter by chapter, and I’m reading it impulsively rather than in order, skipping to katydids or dragonflies just because I suddenly feel like it.  But, obviously, I started with the camel crickets.  I found out so much more about these little critters than Wikipedia could ever be able to tell me.  Hubbell writes from a personal angle; she is not a bug expert, just someone who’s very enthusiastic about them, so I was able to get that same sense of excitement and discovery that she did.  She presents you with amazing tidbits (did you know that the daddy longlegs uses his legs as a kind of cage to trap other insects underneath him as he feeds?) that never feel dry.  Her approach with each insect is different.  With the ladybug, she followed ladybug harvesters (because they sell them now for people who want them in their gardens), for the daddy longlegs and camel crickets, she raised some of her own in cages and observed them, for the butterfly, she followed a few taxonomists, helping them count the different varieties in the Beartooth Mountains.

Sue Hubbell has written many other books, some of which are available at the library.  A Book of Bees… And How to Keep Them is about beekeeping, A Country Year: Living the Questions is a book about living and exploring nature, and Waiting for Aphrodite: Journeys into the Time Before Bones is a book about invertebrates.  I’m excited to check these books out too, once I finish with this one.

Have you read any books lately that make you feel like a giddy 5 year old?  Any books that satisfy an odd curiosity?  Please share in the comments.

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